Fellows Friday News: Projects in Animation, Opera, Poetry, and More

1/5: Jennifer Higdon, 1999 Pew Fellow. Photo by Candace di Carlo.
2/5: Matt Saunders, 2014 Pew Fellow. Photo by Ryan Collerd.
3/5: Tim Portlock, 2011 Pew Fellow. Photo by Colin Lenton.
4/5: Jane Irish, 2011 Pew Fellow. Photo by Colin Lenton.
5/5: Alex Da Corte, 2012 Pew Fellow. Photo by Colin Lenton.

This month’s Pew Fellows news highlights include a new opera from Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jennifer Higdon, a Hodder Fellowship through Princeton University for set designer and theater artist Matt Saunders, and new exhibition works by artists Tim Portlock, Jane Irish, Alex Da Corte, and more.

On View: Fellows Exhibit in Philadelphia, New York, Minneapolis

Tim Portlock (2011) is one of nine contemporary black animation artists participating in Friction Friction, an exhibition in Minneapolis presented in collaboration with Obsidian Arts and The Soap Factory. Open through March 8, “Friction Fiction explores the environment of urban life and blurs the lines of reality,” says the Minnesota Daily.

Locks Gallery in Philadelphia will present Faience & Firenze, a solo exhibition of new ceramics and recent gouache paintings by Jane Irish (2011), open March 6 to April 11. The opening reception will be held at the gallery on March 6 at 5:30 p.m.

While Alex Da Corte’s (2011) recently closed exhibition at the ICA, Easternsports, continues to garner praise from Art in America, his new show, Die Hexe, also provokes commentary and excitement. Now at Luxembourg & Dayan in New York City, W Magazine calls the show an “unsettling, surreal universe that is equal parts dollhouse and haunted house.” Art F City, Blouin ArtInfo, and Broadway World have also previewed the show, among others.

Philadelphia’s Bridgette Mayer Gallery presents a solo exhibition by Eileen Neff (1994), now through April 18, featuring photographic and mixed-media work inspired by unfamiliar landscapes. An opening reception will be held at the gallery on March 6 from 6–8 p.m.

Brian Phillips (2011), founder of the Philadelphia-based architectural firm ISA, will give a talk on environmental design in urban environments. The talk will take place on March 12 at the Scholastic Auditorium in New York City as a part of the Architectural League of New York’s Emerging Voices lecture series.

In Print: New Publications From Fellows

Poet Laynie Browne’s (2014) latest book, Scorpyn Odes, is now available from Kore Press. In it, she “explores the possibility of ‘departure’ as locomotion or energy source, travel and incantatory momentum.”

Novelist Beth Kephart’s (2005) One Thing Stolen, forthcoming from Chronicle Books this April, receives an advance review from Savvy Verse and Wit: “Her novels transcend age boundaries and foster contemplation among her readers, urging them subtly to look past the surface into the heart of her characters and their stories.”

In The News

Opera Philadelphia will present Cold Mountain in 2016, an adaptation of the novel-turned-film, composed by Jennifer Higdon (1999). “Even though we’re now in the 21st century and that story is set in the Civil War, these characters are familiar. Their speaking patterns are familiar, the manner of thinking. I just understood it. I was thinking: people fall in love, people die, it’s perfect for an opera,” Higdon said to NewsWorks. Higdon was also interviewed for The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Set designer and theater artist Matt Saunders (2014) has been announced as one of the 2015-16 Hodder Fellows at Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts, awarded to “artists and humanists in the early stages of their careers…to devote themselves fully to their current or next project.”

A Gotham Magazine feature on the New Museum Triennial, co-curated by visual artist Ryan Trecartin (2009), calls it “one of the hottest tickets of New York’s art-fair season.” Blouin ArtInfo features the exhibition as well, saying, “As much as Cornell and Trecartin’s triennial is about how the digital rubs off on the human, it’s also about the ways in which the human survives.”

Philly Voice features graphic designers taking inspiration from Philadelphia, including Megawords co-founder Anthony Smyrski (2012), who documents his Port Richmond neighborhood in photographs and zines.

Philadelphia’s 6ABC features klezmer musician Elaine Hoffman-Watts (2000), with a video of Watts performing.


Elephant Room creators Dennis Diamond, Louie Magic, and Daryl Hannah were profiled in the Washington Post after the Center-supported project traveled to Washington, D.C.

The Philadelphia Art Alliance underwent exhibition planning with artist collective the Miss Rockaway Armada for a project that explored the organization’s relationship to its surrounding neighborhood.

Kinan Abou-afach is a cellist, composer, and classical Arab musician born in Damascus, Syria, who performs extensively with Philadelphia Arabic cultural organization Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture.

Jazz Bridge presents a performance featuring saxophonist and Pew Fellow Odean Pope and pianist and Pew Fellow Dave Burrell.

The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia opened to the public in 1954 and is located in the former home of brothers Philip and Dr. A.S.W. Rosenbach, international dealers in rare books, manuscripts, and fine and decorative arts.

Grants & Grantees

Internationally noted artist Michael Rakowitz will weave the stories of local Iraq War veterans and Iraqi refugees, cultural traditions, music, and found sound into a participatory performance at Independence Mall, combined with a ten-episode radio program for a national audience, providing an intimate, multifaceted, and sustained portrait of Iraq.

Founded in 1910, International House Philadelphia (IHP) presents cultural programs in the areas of music, exhibitions, and cinema—the latter being its flagship program.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Limor Tomer
 is the General Manager of Concerts & Lectures and a curator of performance at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

WXPN’s yearlong project explores the origins and evolution of zydeco, a form of African-American roots music that blends Cajun traditions, blues, and R&B. On Saturday, December 13, Zydeco Crossroads and Allons Danser welcome zydeco musicians Rosie Ledet & the Zydeco Playboys to Norristown’s Holy Saviour Club for a holiday potluck and dance party.

On Monday, June 13, 2016, we announced and honored the 2016 grantees of The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage with a celebration at Christ Church Neighborhood House.

WXPN is a public radio station operated by the University of Pennsylvania, best known for its World Cafe music program, distributed by National Public Radio.

The Barnes presents a multi-part project that captures city life through a gallery exhibition, newly commissioned public installations and performances, and citizen-created photos and videos.